Words to the Wise: Common Grammar Mistakes to Avoid


What was your favorite subject in school? Was it history? Maybe science? What about grammar?

While grammar may not be the most glamorous subject, don’t underestimate its importance. Words are powerful, and when used incorrectly, they can send an unfavorable message, whether in a deposition or in everyday life!

This month, as children all over the metro area head back to school, let’s break out the books and brush up on our own grammar skills. Consider these commonly misused words and some tips to avoid them:


Elicit / Illicit

You may elicit desired information, but please don’t take illicit drugs!

QUICK TIP:  Remember ill refers to something bad, like illness, or drugs for that matter.


Allude / Elude

While you may allude to the idea that you were not speeding, you should never attempt to elude a police officer!

QUICK TIP:  Elude begins with an E, like its synonym evade.


Preceding / Proceeding

You could speak at the proceeding about your preceding experience, but not the other way around.

QUICK TIP:  If you remember that pre means before, you’ll be a pro.


Infer / Imply

You may infer an insult from my comments, but I did not mean to imply anything insulting.

QUICK TIP:  The listener infers while the speaker implies.


Could of/Would of/Should of vs. Could have/Would have/Should have

You coulda, woulda, shoulda is the commonly used shortcut for could have, would have, and should have – NOT could of, would of, or should of.

QUICK TIP:  Could have, would have, or should have, or could’ve, would’ve, and should’ve simply have what it takes. Could of, would of, or should of are of the lazy variety.


Your / You’re

Just when I think everyone knows this one, I see it wrong again. You’re is the conjunction for you are. Your is the possessive form of you. They are not interchangeable!

QUICK TIP:  Think of the infamous Friends breakup. To quote Ross Geller: ”Y-O-U-apostrophe-R-E means ‘you are.’ Y-O-U-R means ‘your!’”


Of course, I could go on and on.  Hopefully you picked up a quick tip or two. If so, consider today’s “lesson” a success!